Thomas Jefferson Papers
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William Thornton to Thomas Jefferson, 27 June 1812

From William Thornton

City of Washington 27th June 1812—

Dear sir

I recd your Favour a Day or two after I wrote, and by your Servant Davy an order for the machine, which I went to the point to have packed up immediately; but hearing that one of his Horses was galled I advised him to rest them a Day or two, & to manage the Geers so as to prevent any further harm, which was done.—He arrived on the 24th and after the machine was put up I paid Judge Cranch for it, whose receipt I enclose.—You will find the machine on the principle of the Jenny, & I have taken the liberty of sending Mr Barrett’s Papers to enable you to put the machine up: but in doing this I should do a reprehensible act, if I did not determine in case of any accident to them to draw the machine again, & furnish fresh papers: however I am in hopes that the Post will be so safe, that I may rest satisfied in the security of the Papers. You will be so good as to return them in a week or two after you receive the machine, & if there be any further Explanation wanting I will furnish it if in my power. The feeding Sheet is to be put at the end of the machine, occasionally—but I find it is sufficiently described in the Specification.—

I hope the machine will arrive in safety, and I shall be very much disappointed if it should not answer every expectation formed of it.—Your Servant started this day, & I informed him I would write to you by the first post.—I charged him to move with great care, & to go steadily on.—He seems to be very attentive.— He informed me you have some Pups from your Sheep Dogs—If they are not engaged & should not be wanted by you, I should be much obliged by a pair of them, or if two cannot be spared at present a dog would do—Mr Dougherty did not keep his Bitch up with care, otherwise a breed might have been had from her & Mr Cranch’s Spanish Dog, enormously large, but which is meant as a guard & not to drive and attend the Sheep.—

You mentioned in one of your Letters that some of your Sheep had the Scab—A strong decoction of Tobacco mixed1 with some soft Soap, & rubbed on them, I think the best mode of killing or curing the Scab: better even than mercurial Ointment. Livingston gives a Receipt for it in his Book on Sheep.—  I have had above a pint of Blood taken from me since I began this Letter, for I have heard of several Cases of palsy cured by bleeding, & I think the fulness of my veins indicated the propriety of losing some Blood.—My Family join me in every good wish for your happiness— I am dear Sir

with the highest respect & esteem yrs &c

William Thornton—

RC (MHi); at foot of text: “Hon: Thomas Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 1 July 1812 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Receipt from William Cranch on behalf of James Greenleaf for $50 paid by TJ “by the hands of Wm Thornton,” Washington, 25 June 1812, for a spinning machine originally purchased by Greenleaf from Oliver Barrett (MS in MHi; in Cranch’s hand, written on a small slip of paper).

The papers, not found, were presumably the patent specification and drawing for Barrett’s Domestic Roving and Spinning Machine. To cure the scab in sheep, Robert R. Livingston recommended that a decoction of tobacco, lye, hog lard, tar, and turpentine be applied a total of three times to the infected area, administered at three-day intervals (Livingston, Essay on Sheep [New York, 1809; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 796], 176–7).

1Word interlined.

Index Entries

  • Barrett, Oliver; spinning machine of search
  • Cranch, William; buys spinning machine search
  • dogs; breeding of search
  • dogs; shepherd search
  • Dougherty, Joseph; and shepherd dogs search
  • Essay on Sheep (Livingston) search
  • Greenleaf, James; and spinning machine search
  • Hern, David (Davy) (TJ’s slave; b.1784); wagoner search
  • lard; as scab remedy search
  • Livingston, Robert R.; Essay on Sheep search
  • lye; as scab remedy search
  • machines; spinning search
  • medicine; bloodletting search
  • merino sheep; infected with scab search
  • patents; of O. Barrett search
  • scab; remedies for search
  • spinning machines; sent to TJ search
  • spinning machines; W. Cranch buys search
  • tar; as scab remedy search
  • Thornton, William; and merino sheep search
  • Thornton, William; and shepherd dogs search
  • Thornton, William; and spinning machines search
  • Thornton, William; health of search
  • Thornton, William; letters from search
  • tobacco; as scab remedy search
  • turpentine; as scab remedy search